14 Famous Works Of Art The World Will Never See Again

Across human history, countless collections of art have been lost forever because of both human and natural causes. This is the cultural heritage that we’ve lost...

The Library of Alexandria

upload.wikimedia.orgThe Library of Alexandria contained over one million scrolls at its height, the work of generations of artists and academics. That doesn’t mean that the people of the day appreciated it, in fact, the library was destroyed three times before the rebuilding efforts were abandoned after the Muslim conquest in 642 AD.blog.paperblanks.com

The Colossus of Rhodes

personal.psu.eduBuilt by Charles of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC, the Colossus stood at nearly one hundred feet tall. The statue took 12 years to build and only stood for 56 years before an earthquake in 226 BC caused the Greek titan to fall. Now, only small fragments of the statute remain where they fell.

Most of Hollywood’s silent films

culch.ieMost of the feature-length films made during Hollywood’s golden age have been lost forever. Only 14% of the 11,000 movies made between 1912 and 1930 exist in their original format. Poor archiving is to blame for the loss of this cultural heritage.

Picasso’s “Le Peintre”

battlescarredart.co.ukOn September 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed near Halifax, Canada, killing 225 people. While the human loss was by far the most tragic consequence, almost half a billion dollars worth of jewels and artwork were also lost - including an original artwork by Picasso. battlescarredart.co.uk

Monet’s “Water Lilies”

upload.wikimedia.orgIn 1958, a fire at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art destroyed a 18 foot long painting of water lilies by Claude Monet. Over 250 paintings of lilies were painted by Monet while he was suffering from cataracts.

Shakespeare's “Cardenio”

static.bbc.co.ukIn 1613, Shakespeare and his company performed the play “Cardenio” for King James I. Written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, who helped write Henry VIII, the play has all but vanished since then. The likelihood of modern theatres ever reenacting the “Holy Grail” of Shakespeare seems thin.

Courbet’s “The Stone Breakers”

upload.wikimedia.orgStone Breakers was a painting by French artist Gustave Courbet and acted as a work of social realism. The painting was one of hundreds destroyed by the Allies in World War II, during the indiscriminate firebombing of Dresden, Germany.

Michelangelo’s “Leda and the Swan”

upload.wikimedia.orgLeda was Michelangelo’s take on Greek mythology. Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduced Leda, the wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta. Painted in 1529, the work simply vanished and was never seen again after 1536. Luckily, Rosso Fiorentino was able to make copies, but nothing replaces the loss of a Michelangelo work.

Antoine Watteau’s “Spring,” “Autumn,” and “Winter”

blog.paperblanks.comIn the early 1700s, French painter Antoine Watteau created a series of four paintings, named after the four seasons. Sadly, only “Summer” is accounted for today. “Spring” was rediscovered in 1964, only to be destroyed by a fire two year later. “Autumn” and “Winter” have never been found, disappointingly leaving us with the depiction of only one season.

Johannes Vermeer’s “The Concert”

telegraph.co.ukThis nativity scene was painted by Caravaggio in 1609. On October 18, 1969, it was stolen from the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Sicily. The work, valued at $20 million, is believed to have been acquired by the Sicilian mafia. Various police informants claim that the painting was subsequently destroyed in an accident. telegraph.co.uk

The Amber Room

scandi.travelKnown as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” this extravagant room was made by Andreas Schlüter in the 18th century. The architect used over six tons of amber to decorate the room, which once belonged to the King of Prussia. The original room, last located in St Petersburg, was torn apart and looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Although reconstructions have been made, the original remains missing.

Ernest Hemingway’s First Novel

upload.wikimedia.org“Three Stories and Ten Poems” was the first book published by legendary author Ernest Hemingway. But, two of three stories were all that remained of his earlier writing, all of which were stolen from a suitcase in 1922. Hemingway never attempted to rewrite the lost works, including what would have been his first novel - touching on his experiences in World War I. The author claimed that he would have opted for surgery if he knew it could erase the memory of the loss.
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